Pacific Rim is a special effects extravaganza. Director Guillermo del Toro takes you on a ride in spectacular fashion, as he seamlessly combines story-telling with science-fiction and sea monsters. Although the style outweighs the substance, neither aspect comes up short.
Guillermo del Toro has always been ambitious with his films and no film of his has been more ambitious than Pacific Rim. Gigantic monsters storming up from a crevasse in the Pacific Ocean to overtake the earth. A pretty ambitious plot. The monsters, known as Kaijus, are hellbent on destroying earth. The humans, desperate to come up with a solution to stop the monsters, create monsters of their own, which are called Jaegers (German for “hunters”).
These Jaegers are huge robots which are controlled by duos, as their neural load is too much for one human to handle. The duos tap into each other’s conscious in a process called “drifting.” In this process, the two people share each other’s memories and thoughts. Del Toro uses this to play with the characters and it adds another element to the film. The men and women behind these gigantic robots are seemingly damaged goods, but they use this platform of mind-sharing to heal themselves. It goes beyond just a run-in-the-mill monster or action flick. These characters have a level of depth. A level of emotional struggle. They have to work together to overcome. It is not just pointless violence.
The film mostly revolves around Raleigh Becket (Charles Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi). The chemistry between them could have been better, but they are helped by some deft directing by del Toro, who adds a bit of sensuality in how he films their interactions. There is a closeness between them that del Toro is able to capture. Two emotionally damaged people who must rise up together to save humanity. Like I said before, ambitious.
Those two are paired together by Stacker Pentecost (Idri Elba), who utters the already iconic line, “Today we are canceling the apocalypse.” Elba gets my vote as the driving acting force in this film, as he conveys both grace and bravado simultaneously. It is that restraint, that teetering on the edge, that makes this film click most on the human level. He is a rock. He is unchanging, even though everyone around him has their shortcomings emotionally.
And what would a high-octane action flick be without its comic duo? This responsibility is given to the two scientists who study the Kaijus. Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) are those two scientists. Day steals the show as the comedic presence in the movie. His eccentric acting and unique sounding voice is a nice change of pace from the rest of the film. And he does serve as a convincing scientist as well, which is also important too. Also, Ron Perlman plays a small role as a black market seller of Kaiju parts. That enough is almost worth the price of admission.
Not to sound pompous, but I knew this movie would deliver. This is not Michael Bay, it is Guillermo del Toro. He does not compromise story for extended action sequences. Where some could get carried away with the special effects and the monsters, del Toro restrains himself and does not forget about the story. Grounded in monsters and robots are humans, just trying to get by.
All in all, Pacific Rim delivers on all fronts. The special effects are off the charts good. The acting is stellar. The themes and meanings are important. It is just a fun ride. Hopefully, del Toro keeps this as a stand alone. I would hate to see a sequel come from this.